Evolutionary repeatability of emergent properties of ecological communities

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2022.0047. This is version 1 of this Preprint.

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Sandeep Venkataram, Sergey Kryazhimskiy


Most species belong to ecological communities where their interactions give rise to emergent community-level properties, such as diversity and productivity. Understanding and predicting how these properties change over time has been a major goal in ecology, with important practical implications for sustainability and human health. Less attention has been paid to the fact that community-level properties can also change because member species evolve. Yet, our ability to predict long-term eco-evolutionary dynamics hinges on how repeatably community-level properties change as a result of species evolution. Here, we review studies of evolution of both natural and experimental communities and make the case that community-level properties at least sometimes evolve repeatably. We discuss challenges faced in investigations of evolutionary repeatability. In particular, only a handful of studies enable us to quantify repeatability. We argue that quantifying repeatability at the community level is critical for approaching what we see as three major open questions in the field: (1) Is the observed degree of repeatability surprising? (2) How is evolutionary repeatability at the community level related to repeatability at the level of traits of member species? (3) What factors affect repeatability? We outline some theoretical and empirical approaches to addressing these questions. Advances in these directions will not only enrich our basic understanding of evolution and ecology but will also help us predict eco-evolutionary dynamics.




Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


eco-evolutionary dynamics, Community evolution, Evolutionary parallelism


Published: 2022-12-11 02:03


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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